Childhood best friends and founders of luxury, sustainable swimwear brand freetides reveal to us what it’s really like starting a dream business with your best friend. We asked Beth & Lucy to each answer 6 questions, here’s what they said.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far since working together?
Beth: We both have different communication styles and there’s been times we don’t agree or one of us has challenged the other over something. Navigating those situations professionally to achieve the best outcome for the business whilst also being careful to protect our personal relationship can be difficult - I definitely haven’t got the balance right every time!
Lucy: We run all elements of the business, from the design of our swimwear to the marketing. Being two creative individuals, our ideas naturally sometimes clash. Finding a way to move forward that we’re both passionate about, I would say, is definitely one of the most challenging parts! Luckily, I think being best friends really helps with this; we both have a huge amount of respect for each other’s opinions and always take the time to listen and understand the other’s perspective.
Name the 3 best things about working together.
Beth: My favorite thing is getting to spend so much time with my best friend, and freetides has made us even closer because we have this shared goal and experience. My other favorite thing is that the depth of connection we have allows us to be totally honest with each other and means we bounce the best ideas off each other. We’ve been best friends for over 15 years so the foundation of our business relationship is incredibly strong. I think that’s a blessing and so rare. Lastly, it’s got to be that working with your bestie makes even the most boring tasks (like filing our end of year accounts) fun because there’s always light-hearted moments.
Lucy: Number one would definitely have to be following our dream! Beth & I have always dreamed of freetides and running the business together feels like we’ve stepped into the life we’ve always wanted. Secondly would be time together, there’s rarely a day that goes by when we don’t speak, and starting freetides together has definitely made us closer than ever. Finally, I’d say the laughs! Nothing better than catching up over a glass of wine and having a laugh with your best friend after a hard day of work.
Have there been any awkward moments?
Beth: I can think of one when we first launched freetides… Being best friends we also share the same close friendship group and one night when we were having drinks with the girls our close friend asked me some private questions to do with freetides. Speaking openly with this close friend over wine I divulged some slightly sensitive information which Lucy and I hadn’t discussed yet… it led to an awkward conversation between us later and definitely taught me the sensitivities and fine balance between business partner and best friend.
Lucy: Funnily the first thing that came to mind was designing our logo! We hand drew the artwork and agreed on this quickly but designing the style for “freetides” took us weeks - we both had clear ideas of what we wanted and it took a lot of trial and error to get us somewhere we were both happy with. I suppose this comes back to our differences as creatives, but one thing that gives me energy to keep working at it when we disagree creatively is I know we always come to a solution in the end that’s better than what either of us had come up with separately at the start.
What do you each bring to the table?
Beth: I’m more of a realist and the practical one, I usually lean on the cautious side and will be more direct in my approach to situations. Out of the both of us Lucy is the dreamer, she’s usually optimistic and has a more delicate approach. I think it’s the best mix because we balance each other out. We will spark these big ideas together, then Lucy will push them even further and I’ll be a grounded presence to make it happen. We’re a Capricorn and an Aquarius and I think we’re both pretty true to form!
Lucy: I’d say the qualities we bring to our friendship is what we bring to our business relationship too. It’s rare to find someone you want to co-found a business with, and I think it’s the trust, patience, kindness and loyalty we both bring to our friendship which we now also bring to our business that allows us to succeed. Personality wise, we are so different! I’m an optimistic dreamer, Beth is more grounded and a real go-getter; we balance each other out and fill in each other’s gaps.
What advice would you give people who are thinking about starting a business with their friend?
Beth: I’d say go for it with eyes wide open. Lucy and I have an incredible amount of respect for each other and each other’s opinion - I don’t make many decisions in life without running them past her first! I think unwavering respect is the foundation of all the best relationships and business partnerships are no exception. Choose a friend who you can be totally transparent with and have so much respect for - it will help you navigate those difficult conversations!
Lucy: A lot of people often warn against starting a business with your best friend, but I’d say if you’ve built a strong relationship already then you’re halfway to success! If you are seriously considering it, making sure you share the same goal and outcome for the business, and understanding each other’s ways of working and work/life balance before you get started would be my advice.
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